Read Free E-books Without an E-reader

Read Free E-books Without an E-readerIt is amazing to me how few people realize that e-books can be viewed without the need to purchase an additional electronic gadget.

This point was driven home to me this past weekend when I was privy to a conversation in which two individuals expressed their belief that, because they didn’t own an e-reader, they couldn’t receive free e-books. This was despite the fact that both of these individuals owned computers and tablets. In fact, one person stated that not having an e-reader was one reason they continued to purchase paperbacks and hard cover books. This made me consider how much of these misconceptions were fueled by the e-reader marketers versus users just not understanding how they can gain access to free e-books. That, in turn, led me to write this article as a way to eliminate these misconceptions.

Free e-readers available for all

Because the industry is changing so drastically, many providers, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, are offering free software and applications as a way to introduce end users to this new technology. For example:

  • Amazon offers free software for many popular devices including Apple iPads, iPhones, and iPods; its Kindle software focuses on making this new technology available (for free) for desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, netbooks and even Mac computers. This means that, since these programs are available for free for almost any currently manufactured electronic device, reading e-books from Amazon has never been easier. With these programs, Amazon also offers what it calls ‘Whispersync’ technology, a feature that allows you to automatically save and synchronize all of your page readings, your bookmarks, notes, and highlights. Once saved, all of these will then be displayed on all of your selected devices. The major advantage of this feature is that you can then start to read an e-book on your desktop computer or other device and finish reading it on any other device on which the Kindle software is installed.
  • If you choose to use one of the Barnes & Noble applications, you will find that the company, like Amazon, offers free software for all popular computing, tablet, and smartphone devices. Also, like Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble offers free books for your reading pleasure and will transform many electronic devices into free e-readers.
  • So, while the two above are probably the most well-publicized producers of free e-books, Sony also offers free e-reader software for many popular devices including PCs, Macs, Androids, and Apple’s entire popular lineup of devices. To support its application, Sony also offers a selection of free e-books.
  • However, one mustn’t forget the ever-popular Apple products such as the iPad or iPhone. For these devices, Apple offers free books from its very popular iBook store.
  • Last, Google has jumped into the market by offering its free e-book reading software that will work for its popular Android devices.

One other option is to search out third-party software, such as Kobo. Kobo supports not only the aforementioned electronic devices but also BlackBerries. An additional advantage to this software is that it not only offers an extensive library of free e-books for its free e-reader, but includes the option to purchase those e-books for which the author is charging a fee to read. Remember that, since e-books don’t require a printer, they are usually less expensive than purchasing a soft bound or hard bound copy of the same material.

While this article is aimed at helping you, the reader, to use this new technology and save yourself some money, I am hopeful that it will also encourage those of you who aren’t currently receiving free books to search out the proper free e-reader for yourselves. My opinion is that no one needs to spend their hard-earned cash on yet another electronic gadget if they can enjoy the exact same thing on a device that they have already purchased.

Comments welcome.

Sources: Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, iBook

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Constance Wiebrands

Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • SilvaSharlene

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  • Max Minzer

    Here’s a link to Kindle Cloud Reader:

  • Kyle Polansky

    I have used Google Play Books a little bit, and I think it’s pretty neat. I’m more into smaller articles like this rather than full books, but Google’s software works on any web browser, making it a good choice for me as I don’t own any mobile devices besides a few laptops and some iPods.

  • Joseph Grigoletti

    The average computer user uses 2-4 applications only and will not download anything or very little. They think downloading is dangerous and you can get viruses (unless it is done through iTunes or on their iPods). They think you’re only option for word processing is Microsoft Word and are afraid of any sort of change. This is why Windows XP is still probably the most used OS in the world. As I recently told my mother when she asked me if she should make another hotmail account because of spam, ”The only people I know who use Hotmail still are either those who were sheltered in religious communities or over 35”. 

    • gotBurner

      Over 35, eh?

    • Richard Stadler

      Respect, youngster, respect.

  • LukeLC

    This is true, but of course a computer or smartphone won’t have the e-ink screen that makes the most common e-readers so pleasant to use. That’s the one thing that has prevented me from using e-reader apps for other devices very often. Oh, I do read a lot on other devices, but if I’m going to sit down for an extended period of time I definitely prefer a screen that is easier on the eyes.

  • Me

    eBooks… you don’t own them because you can only rent them.

  • Davies

    I got a kindle reader for my iPad which works great. I can buy books on amazon or download free PDFs etc. it is good!

  • Amber Taylor

    Yep – the fact that people thought you had to have an ereader surprised me as well.  I wrote a blog post about a year ago with links to several sites that give away free ebooks – and links to the software to read them on PC.  

  • Peter John

    Great observation. Kind of surprises me. It benefits having a variety of PC and tablet based e-readers installed, because not only can you carry a huge library around, you can synch between devices and the Cloud, and access your librqary even from public computers. This comes in handy in arguments when someone wants documentary proof of something, and , “Okay, check this out!” I’ve reached a point where 90 percent of my academic citations — including books — are from elctronic documents.

  • Myothernamesagoodone

    I’m amazed that there is no mention of Calibre, the ebook library application available for Windows, OSX and Linux, and not only includes readers for all the major ebook formats but also allows you to convert between them. One piece of software to cover every source of ebooks surely has to be the top, if not the only, recommendation here?

    • Kris

      Open Source rarely gets attention around here :(
      I’m all in Linux, so I’m glad someone mentioned Calibre.

  • D Lowrey

    Unlike the DRM which Amazon and B&N uses…you can use Project Guttenberg. No DRM…formats for any type of device and free. The biggest drawback is the books are out-of-copyright (1923 and before).  Many you may want to read will always stay out of copyright because of Disney and other corporations buying off the US Congress to keep extending copyright to infinity.

    On the other hand…if you head out of the US…you can get free books which are still in copyright in the US…such as “1984” from Australia and such in their online libraries because of their more reasonable copyright laws. May or may not be legal…but at least other countries haven’t yet bent over to corporate America…no matter how much this government is doing its best to do so.

    Another option available is through Baen and Tor books. If you have a friend who buys their sci-fi/fantasy titles…Baen includes a CD in back with about 600 MB of their titles. Even libraries might have these CD’s available in the back of their Baen books you can check out.

    You like Doctor Who…the BBC usually has books with the older Doctors for free on their website…even though it does take some searching to find these.

    There are tons of free books available…if you’re willing to do some searching.

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  • Cher22

    Excellent article.